Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day, Brought to You By Unions Everywhere

This year I joined the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO (NWU).  I advocate for unions all the time, and this just puts the icing on the cake for me, but more than that, more than how it makes me feel, union membership joins us, arms linked, as we struggle to give our labor force the respect it deserves.  (Yes, even those workers who rail against unions.  We fight for them, too.  Because who else will?)

As I do every Labor Day, I went looking for Labor Day mentions, and the first thing I found was a list of Labor Day quotes to use on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  Hey!  Great!  But after reading a few of them I noticed a pattern:  They were all about the rewards of hard work, the joys of labor, the shame of idleness.  Nothing about unions AT ALL.  On Labor Day.

It came from the International Business Times, and their lead paragraph is a study in how to say so little about organized labor you would think it never existed:
Labor Day is more than just a pseudo end to summer.  Most Americans throughout the nation are off work on Monday, and that's because more than 100 years ago laborers were forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week.  While you kick back and relax with some delicious food and cold drinks, here are some interesting quotes social media users can share with family and friends, (etc., etc., etc.)
Enough said, apparently.  What follows are 25 quotes from people  like Maya Angelou, MLK, and Ginger Rogers.  Work is good!  Everybody should work!

And a little shame can't hurt, says Henry Ford in Quote #24:  "Nobody can think straight who does not work.  Idleness warps the mind." 

But the last thought is the kicker--I think:
Bonus for the fashionistas:  "Rules like 'don't wear white after Labor Day' or 'shoes matching the handbag' are antiquated.  Modern women should feel free to experiment."
(Look, I just report these things, I shouldn't be expected to explain them, too.)

But Labor Day is traditionally a celebration of organized labor and a reminder of the sacrifices that came before.  It's a union-invented holiday, celebrated by all workers everywhere, union or not.

As I write this, Joe Biden is giving his annual Labor Day speech in Pittsburgh, talking about how productivity went up about 73% while wages went up only 9%, and. . .

(What the hell? MSNBC just broke into his speech, saying they'll come back to it if he says something important.  They're waiting for him to talk about a run for the presidency.  Nothing else is important on this LABOR DAY.)

So guess what C-Span 2 put into their programming this morning--on LABOR DAY?  "Gretchen Carlson on 'Getting Real.  Fox New anchor Gretchen Carlson shares her life and career in 'broadcasting'."   (Oh, honey, I wish I was kidding.)

News flash:  MSNBC just cut off the president's LABOR DAY speech, too.  CNN didn't cover it at all.  As far as I know, the LABOR DAY speeches by POTUS and the Veep were not broadcast in their totality anywhere on television.  If I'm wrong, please tell me.  Unbelievable.  (If it's not Trump, it's not news.)

But on to the better stuff.  A round-up of Labor Day observances on this, our day:

The Nation:  Top Ten Labor Day Songs

Bernie Sanders:  Stand Together and Fight Back.

L.A Times:  Uncertain Times for American Labor.

Dylan Petrohilos (ThinkProgress):  Seven Union Heroes to Remember.

The Atlantic:  A Labor Day 2015 Reading List.  (A list within a list.  It's all good.)

Ben Railton (TPM):  The Forgotten Radical History of Labor Day.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:  This labor Day.

Ramona (That's me):  Friday Follies Labor Day Edition, 2011


This is our day to enjoy.  To celebrate our successes.  We've earned it.

And--I don't like to brag--but isn't it just like us to want to share it?  (Insert Smiley Face here.)

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